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What Can You Do If Your Neighbor Has a Problematic Pet?

posted on: Jul 6, 2022

There are a lot of ways a neighbor can have a pet that creates a problem for you. One of the big ones is when their pet is constantly in your yard.

Having a dog or cat pooping in your yard and even potentially being threatening toward you and your family and your pets isn’t ideal. There are other issues that can occur as well, like barking dogs who are loud at all hours, day or night, or animals that live in less-than-optimal conditions in your neighbor’s back yard. 

Dealing with your neighbor’s pets can create challenges, but you don’t want to immediately resort to calling animal control. 

First, animal control isn’t likely to even respond unless the issue involves suspected abuse, a sick animal, poor living conditions, or a general disinterest in the welfare of the pet on the part of its owner. 

There are other things you can do initially before resorting to more drastic measures if the situation is more of a nuisance.  

Talk to Your Neighbor Directly

If there’s an off-leash dog wandering around the neighborhood or a cat is using your child’s sandbox as a litterbox, it’s probably time to go directly to your neighbor if you haven’t already. You need to speak to your neighbor with the offending animal in a non-confrontational way because they genuinely might not even realize there’s an issue. 

There may be something you can work out together rather than having to make things a legal issue. 

Of course, not every neighbor will be amenable to working anything out. 

Before you do go to your neighbor, try to have some solutions in mind that you can offer

You can also try and find the right time to talk to them. For example, in the evening, right when they get home from work usually isn’t it. They’ll be tired and probably not in the mood. On the weekends can be a better time, when your neighbor is more relaxed. 

Maybe you can use the conversation to learn more about your neighbor’s perspective, and you should avoid blaming them when you talk. 

Suggest Mediation

If you approach your neighbor and they aren’t willing to work on finding a solution, you might suggest mediation. A mediator is a professional who can listen to both sides of a dispute, keep the conversation focused on the actual issues, and help the parties involved come to a resolution that might work for both of them. 

You don’t need a pending lawsuit to work with a mediator. That’s one of the major benefits of  deciding to work with a mediator—they can help you avoid a lawsuit altogether. 

Check Into Local Laws and Regulations

Maybe you’ve tried to discuss the situation with your neighbor and negotiate with them, and you can’t resolve whatever the problem is. 

In that case, it may be good to look at state laws and local ordinances and see if they’re in violation of any of them. You can search online and use keywords like animal control or animal law enforcement. 

Some of the laws might include limiting the number of animals per household or limiting the types of allowed animals. The length of time and frequency of a dog barking may be limited, and there may be certain leash requirements for dogs. 

The police department’s probably not going to do much unless it’s an urgent situation, so in this situation, it could be time to contact your local animal control service. They might not necessarily go and take someone’s pet away, but what they can do is contact the neighbor if they think your complaint is valid and issue a warning. Then, if the issue continues, the neighbor might receive a citation, which is like getting a traffic ticket. 

If you do end up calling animal control, you’ll have to let them know the neighborhood you’re in, how often the problem is occurring, and whether or not other people in the neighborhood are experiencing similar problems. 

If an animal is getting into your yard, there are certain things you can also do on your own, like building or repairing a fence. You can also set up security cameras, which can help you get evidence of whatever the situation is. You can also post signs warning that animals aren’t to be on your property. 

Other deterrents include using a motion-activated watering system, mothballs, or even ultrasonic dog repellant. 

Write a Demand Letter

If you’ve tried everything you feel is in your power to deal with your neighbor’s animal, and you think you have to file a small claim, you may wonder where you start. 

First, you write a demand letter, which is like a legal complaint. In your demand letter, you outline your dispute and why you’re going to take it to court. 

You should include the amount you’re suing your neighbor for and the specific relief you’re seeking. You submit the letter directly to the person you have a dispute with. 

In your demand letter, you can explain the situation briefly in a concise and polite way and the steps you’ll take if there’s no resolution to the problem. 

In some locations, you can file a nuisance lawsuit, and a judge might order your neighbor to fix the situation and pay a fine. 

You can potentially sue and get damages if an animal comes into your yard without permission and especially if they damage your property, or even worse, hurt someone in your family. 

Finally, no matter what happens, don’t threaten the animal with violence. This is one of the worst thing you can do in these situations for a host of reasons, and of course, never actually hurt an animal, either. While there are legal options that are available to you to prevent animals from being a nuisance, if you harm or kill the dog or even threaten to, you could be the one that finds yourself in legal trouble. 

Don’t do anything spiteful, for that matter, like leaving animal waste on their front steps, no matter how frustrated you get.

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